06 August 2014 1 of 2

TIMOR-LESTE (Lautem to Manatuto Distr.)



We spent the morning working on specimens, doing photography etc. then after lunch we left Soibada for the south coast, but first we made a trip up to the Catholic church at the top of the opposite hill, the Santuario Nacional de nossa Senhora de Aitara. On the high point of the hill is an interesting juxtaposition of the sacred: the Catholic chapel flanked by an enormous tree, whose base was surrounded by barbed wire. To us it appeared as if the tree, akin to the sacred tree of life in the movie Avatar, was in a way the guardian of the hill. The chapel on level ground beside it is perhaps another example of religious inclusiveness: if you want to attract followers to a new religion, incorporate parts of the old. This is an old theme in Christianity, perhaps beginning with Constantine, who placed the day of celebration on Sunday so that it would be the same as for those who worshipped the sun.

Santuario Nacional de nossa Senhora de Aitara
The Tree of Life and the Catholic chapel
The approach up the steps
The chapel on the top

We then drove down the river, crossed at the ford and drove up the other side where we could see Soibada clearly, then past a new statue to the Virgin Mary and onto the Natarbora road.

Soibada from the opposite hill, click image for a close-up of the school and accomodation
The new statue to the Virgin Mary

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